By : Devin Morrissey
Setting Up the Next Generation: Minimizing Your Carbon Footprint
Each time I watch a sunset, I stare out over the horizon with awe in my eyes. The tranquility of the purple, periwinkle blue and hues of pink all sprinkled with golden flecks of light put me in a place of serenity. Sunsets are a miraculous spectacle, surely, but did you know the colors they create are a visual effect of pollution in the air?
It is truly difficult to recognize the perils the Earth is in when we are continually graced by its beauty. However, it is important to remember that every decision we make, every good we purchase, every step we take is making an impact on the environment and the longevity of its health. Many people are aware that they can do certain things that are fairly low impact both on the wallet and their time to help make a small difference. This includes things like recycling, composting or turning off lights when you leave the house
What I want to know is, what can we do to make BIG differences, instead of small ones?
As society becomes more aware of the state of the planet and it’s ozone, communities of people and individuals have been making the necessary changes to their routines to include time for environmental responsibility. Even some careers have been making the shift to be more environmentally conscious, setting foundations for more fields to follow in their footsteps. The world is slowly becoming united on a front against the negative impacts of human consumption and waste.
There are a number of things that we can do in addition to what we are doing now. While we know turning your sprinklers on only at night or early in the morning helps save water and taking shorter showers reduces carbon emissions, we are also learning that there are many other things we can be doing to make a true impact.
The Home Body
On average, we spend about 10 hours a day at home — whether we are sleeping, cooking, cleaning or eating. That is a lot of time to make healthier decisions. There are many things we can do to reduce our carbon emissions while at home. Keep in mind, some of these strategies require certain means to accomplish, so choose the options which best suit your lifestyle and your budget.
One of the easiest ways to help the environment is by going minimalist. Look around your house and remove the items which add to the clutter. If the item doesn’t bring you immediate joy, get rid of it. Make sure you’re doing this responsibly as well: donate your old items to homeless shelters, thrift stores and churches instead of tossing them in the dumpster.
Go green on all your billing needs by choosing paperless options. Many companies are choosing paperless billing as a means for reducing the amount of paper waste in the world. You can apply these settings easily by checking your online accounts for paperless billing.
When you purchase new products for your house, be sure to do your research on the company prior. If the company isn’t doing their part to be environmentally conscious, perhaps you should consider going with a product from a business that does. Solar panels be sure to choose a provider who makes a true difference in the solar community; perhaps a business that supports legislation around going green. .
Although we spend nearly 10-12 hours at home during the day, we spend another 8-10 hours a day at work. Work is like your second home — a place where you decorate, go to the bathroom and eat — so your workplace should surely be considered when you make the transition to go green.
If your job is anything like mine, your managers fully support any and all employees who wish to live eco-friendly while at work. Among the many things you can do at work, some stand out as being especially helpful. The commute is one of the places where you can lower your emissions greatly by choosing a green means of travel. Rather than drive your Ford F350, look for public transportation options in your area or choose to ride your bike. Don’t have a bike? Look into bike-sharing programs for your city. Perhaps there is a docking station close to your office.
Paper waste is a big problem in businesses. Avoid adding to the problem by going electronic on as many documents as you can. Rather than having things sent through the mail, have them emailed. Send out all newsletters and memos digitally. Recycle everything. Printing? Go double-sided and save the sheets.
Work is a popular place to take smoking breaks as well. If you’re a smoker, consider switching to vape pens while at work. Cigarette butts are extremely wasteful and impact the cleanliness of city streets. Using vape pens reduces the effects of cigarette butts and nicotine pollution in the air.
Buy, Buy, Buy
The conveniences of online shopping has really helped busy people gain more control over their time, making it easier for people to have the things they need with the click of a button. Shopping is great, don’t get me wrong, but it is also one of the largest contributors to global warming. Rather than choosing to reduce your consumption of goods and reuse the goods that we can, we simply throw away our old items and go out and buy more.
Instead of being wasteful, consider using your goods even after they have lost their ability to fulfill their initial purpose. For example, turn an old t-shirt into a rag for cleaning, use your old grocery bags and zip ties to secure loose or exposed wires under your desk, open envelopes more carefully and simply cover the existing labels, glass jars can be converted into leftover containers for your lunches and dinners, donate your egg cartons to schools for arts and crafts. Everyday items that are often tossed can easily serve another purpose.
It is pretty unrealistic to imagine you will never shop again, so when you do, try to be more conscious of the items you are purchasing. Do your best to avoid goods that are packaged in plastic and styrofoam as they are especially bad for the environment. When you have to purchase goods like paper towels and toilet paper, choose the brands that are recyclable. Same goes for household cleaners: purchase goods that are environmentally friendly and avoid putting toxic fumes into the air.
Possibilities in Politics
Going political doesn’t mean to have to become a politician or attend every single town hall meeting. You can choose the political approach to environmental consciousness by following up on local and federal legislation. Pay closer attention to the conversations surrounding global warming and climate change in politics. Keep your eyes open for legislation that you feel passionate about and show your support for it.